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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Any thoughts on last week's National Transport Plan for Wales?

The complete document can be viewed here:
http://wales.gov.uk/docs/det/consultation/090715nationaltransportplanen.pdf

The report pushes integrating public transport connections, ticketing, etc as well as increasing walking and cycling initiatives. As has been reported, the M4 relief road and Cardiff Airport link road dead in the water. However, other road schemes include:

  • A465 Heads of the Valleys road dualling completed by 2020, with Tredegar to Brynmawr finished and Brynmawr to Gilwern starting in 2014
  • Variable Speed Limits
  • Improvements to the A40 at The Kell, the A477 from St Clears to Red Roses, and the A40 from Llanddewl Velfry to Penblewin
  • A473 Church Village bypass to be completed by 2010
  • Increasing the capacity of the Menai Bridge
  • Improvements to the A55 roundabouts at J15 and 16
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Following hot on the heels of the report:

£1bn plan to electrify rail line



A £1bn plan to electrify the main rail route between London and Swansea has been announced by the government.

A second line between Liverpool and Manchester will also be converted from diesel to electric...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8164070.stm
 

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The Church Village bypass is long overdue. This area has seen thousands of homes in the last 15 years or so without any increase in road capacity. Even more homes are planned in future for Southen RCT - particularly given Cardiffs LDP seems dead set against providing the suburban land necessary for building new family homes.

Its a shame we don't see an Eastern Bay Link for Cardiff. It really would give a significant boost to the Bay as a business location - access is presently pretty poor from the East.
 

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As far as transport provision for North Wales it's a lot of hot air typified by this comment:

We will:

a. Consider the potential contribution of all modes to identify the most appropriate package of potential proposals to the transport issues in the area between Wrexham, Chester and Deeside.
One of the main issues here is the electrification of the line from Wrexham to Liverpool - good to see this one being advanced at such rapid speed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Controversy surrounds road completion date
Jul 23 2009

A COMPLETION date for the multi-million pound Heads of the Valleys road dualling project was announced last week - but it has been met with controversy by Assembly Members.

As part of the Wales National Transport Plan, Deputy First Minister and Transport Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones announced the Welsh Assembly Government’s commitment to the A465, with its intention to complete all work by 2020.

But the announcement was met with suggestions the Minister has delayed improvements to parts of the road...

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/south-wales-news/rhymney-valley/2009/07/23/controversy-surrounds-road-completion-date-91466-24215870/
 

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Any thoughts on last week's National Transport Plan for Wales?

  • Increasing the capacity of the Menai Bridge
  • Improvements to the A55 roundabouts at J15 and 16
From a north wales point of view, these 2 are long overdue.

However, the first point is going to be a biggy. The only way they can really increase the capacity across the Menai is to build a 3rd bridge across it. The plans that people have told me about is a 3rd bridge just to the east of the existing Britannia Bridge, which is the one that carries the A55 across to Anglesey, and then make the existing bridge westbound only and the new bridge east bound.

On the 2nd point, I would hope that 'improvements' actually mean removing the roundabouts completely and making these 2 junctions into a 'proper' motorway junction. And, when they've done that, and if they build the new bridge across the Menai as well, why not just renumber the A55 into a proper Motorway. As far as I can tell, it's just these 2 issues which are stopping it - roundabouts on the dual carriageway and that the route has to go down to a single carriageway across the Menai.
 

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Another transport thing for Wales
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/8346748.stm
Old tracks could see trains again

Passenger lines axed from the rail network under the Beeching reforms in the 1960s could once again see trains.

The Welsh Assembly Government has asked Network Rail to conduct feasibility studies on two former track stretches.

The lines are on old sections between Llangefni on Anglesey and Bangor, and between Aberdare and Hirwaun in the Cynon valley in south Wales.

In both cases, while the routes were closed, the disused rail tracks still remain in place.

"This could provide an economic stimulus for Anglesey and further proposals to extend passenger traffic between Llangefni and Amlwch," responded the leader of Anglesey council, Coun Clive McGregor.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Delight as Heads of the Valleys work announced
7:30am Thursday 11th March 2010

POLITICIANS welcomed news that work to transform a section of the Heads of the Valleys road into a dual carriageway will begin in 2012.

We reported yesterday how a contract for the £116 million project to dual the A465 from Brynmawr to Tredegar has been awarded to Carillion Plc, creating 200 jobs.

The project was originally due to start next month, but was put back by two years due to technical delays and is now expected to be completed by early 2015...

http://www.southwalesargus.co.uk/news/gwentnews/5052406.Delight_as_Heads_of_the_Valleys_work_announced/?ref=rss
 

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eGov Monitor: Cities And Regions Join Hand To Bring Super Fast Rail To South West England And South Wales

A new partnership of local authorities and regional development agencies is launching its bid to campaign for a High Speed Rail (HSR) line from London to South Wales and South West England.

The Great Western Partnership (GWP) is an HSR action group which is promoting the economic and environmental benefits of establishing a HSR line west of London.

HSR would reduce the journey time from London to Cardiff to around 70 minutes, and the time from London to Bristol to around 60 minutes, bringing significant connectivity and economic benefits to the cities of Bristol and Cardiff and their surrounding city regions. HSR will build upon the welcome programme of electrification of the Great Western Main Line from London to Bristol in 2016 and to Cardiff and Swansea in 2017, which will improve current journey times but not achieve HSR speeds.

By significantly cutting journey times between cities, HSR has the potential to help improve the UK’s economic performance and make a significant contribution to the UK Government’s carbon reduction objectives. By transferring long distance services to a new dedicated line, HSR will also release capacity on the existing rail network, which can then be used for commuter travel and freight.

Major cities and their city regions are the drivers of the country’s economic prosperity. The development of a Great Western HSR line would enhance the economic competitiveness of South West England and South Wales and ensure neither region gets left behind other regions on a UK HSR Network.

The GWP is particularly focussing on the benefits HSR will bring to the knowledge-based employment sector and employment growth in general.

Transport Secretary Lord Adonis will shortly announce proposals for the UK’s second HSR line ‘High Speed 2’, connecting London with the West Midlands, North of England and Scotland. The GWP’s campaign seeks to secure the Government’s commitment to build the UK’s third HSR line (‘High Speed 3’) along the Great Western Corridor.

Bristol City Council Leader Barbara Janke said: "I am delighted to endorse this initiative to improve rail connectivity between London, via Bristol to South Wales. I believe that high speed rail is absolutely essential to grow both our regional economies in the future. We have clear examples from Europe and elsewhere of the benefits this can bring. Indeed, if we fail to secure this investment I believe our economies will suffer in relation to other UK regions.

"I also welcome the chance to forge closer links with South Wales in general and Cardiff in particular. We are two major international destinations with many similar ambitions, problems and challenges, and we are the economic drivers of our respective regions. We are forging closer links through a range of initiatives and I hope and believe that this is the beginning of much closer collaboration on many shared issues in the future.”

Cardiff Council’s leader Rodney Berman has been pressing the case for HSR and the benefits it will bring to the economy.

He said: “The Great Western Partnership is lobbying the UK Government to invest in an HSR line to serve South Wales and South West England.”

“It is essential that the UK’s core cities stand shoulder-to-shoulder to campaign for a transportation system fit for the 21st century and I am fully committed to persuading the Government to develop a High Speed Rail line from London to South Wales.”

Cllr Peter Greenhalgh, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Sustainability, Transport and Strategic Planning, said: “A High Speed Rail Link to Swindon and beyond would provide not just economic benefits but social improvements.

“We would urge the Government to consider for once linking the West to the capital city and allowing those who live outside London to the west to enjoy the benefits of those in the South East.”

South West RDA Board Member Nick Buckland is emphasising the need for a network approach so full benefits are realised from HSR investment.

He said: “The Great Western Partnership is lobbying the UK Government to invest in an HSR line to serve South West England and South Wales.

“It is essential that we come together to campaign for a rail system which helps us to compete in a global economy. Increasing the competitiveness of the UK economy as a whole means we need a nationwide HSR network which includes a line from London to Bristol and Cardiff which also makes direct rail links to Heathrow possible. While this will be a long term programme, with steps such as electrification helping along the way, the planning and commitment has to start now. ”
 

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Ok - just catching up with some North Wales local news websites and came across these 2 stories about the North Wales coast railway line.

The first one, reopening the line to Caernarvon, has been something that's been needed for a while now so hopefully they'll make some progress on that.

The second one, erm, I think this is a story about people in Bangor wanting it to be included in the proposed new High Speed rail service that'll go from London to Birmingham and then maybe Liverpool/Manchester or Newcastle and onwards to Scotland. The fact that these cities are still campaigning to be included on the route, I think there's some seriously deluded people if they think they've got a strong case to get the North Wales line upgraded for it...

Back on Track - Hopes for Caernarfon rail link
http://www.northwaleschronicle.co.uk/news/87145/back-on-track-hopes-for-caernarfon-rail-link.aspx

TRANSPORT chiefs are looking to re-open the rail link between Bangor and Caernarfon.

The line, which closed 30 years ago, could become the subject of a multi-million pound development if a suitable plan can be drawn up.

The proposal was outlined in the North Wales Regional Transport Plan.

A spokesman for Gwynedd council said that re-opening the line was one of the goals of the assessment. “Establishing a rail link which connects Caernarfon with the North Wales coast railway line is a long-term aspiration.”
Concerns over new rail plans which could “sideline” Bangor
http://www.theonlinemail.co.uk/bang...s-which-could-sideline-bangor-66580-26091299/

PLANS to build a UK high speed rail network could "sideline" the long term economic development of Bangor, according to politicians and businessmen.

The UK Government recently launched a consultation on the provision of French style TGV services from London to Birmingham and further afield.

Construction for the first stage of the scheme is scheduled to start in around seven years time.

Alun Pugh, director of the Snowdonia Society and Welsh Labour parliamentary candidate, said: "At present, the UK has only one high speed line, from London to the Channel Tunnel.

"As a result, the UK rail infrastructure is significantly inferior to the networks found in France, Germany and Spain.

"I’ve travelled on high speed lines in other parts of Europe and there is a marked difference between the state run networks there and the trains run here.

"The UK Government has published a future high speed rail strategy which will see trains running at well over 200mph north of London.

"That’s a welcome development which will bring significant economic and environmental benefits.

"It’s much better to invest public money in rail rather than motorway building or subsiding short haul air travel.

"However, if it’s not properly planned it does have the potential to sideline the long term economic development of North Wales,. so there must be an upgrading of the line and a suitable connection into the core high speed network.

"High speed rail can have a transformational effect on economies.

"For example, a knowledge-based business located in Bangor could enjoy the twin benefits of being located in a university town close to a national park while being around two hours by rail from Central London and Heathrow.

"It would make North Wales a superb place to live and to do business."

Bangor businessman Phil Lowndes, who is involved with Bangor Pride, said: "It would be a crying shame if a place such as Bangor isn’t included in any new rail service," he said.

"The rail link needs to be improved from North Wales to Cardiff because it is still easier to get to London now.

"But the profile of the area has been boosted by Radio 1’s Big Weekend, so if this new service does happen, we need to be part of it and it could help attract other big events here."
 

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Meanwhile down in Ponty, Stuart Cole, Professor of Transport at the University of Glamorgan examines why UK Transport Minister is havering over his decision to upgrade Wales’ rail connectivity
quote
http://www.clickonwales.org/2010/11/electrification-to-swansea-a-no-brainer/
The next two weeks will tell if the Great Western Main Line from Swansea to London is to be electrified and when that will occur. Secretary of State for Transport Phillip Hammond’s decision was due last week but it has been delayed.
So closely kept has been the information that the devolved government most affected has not been told. On Saturday in a Western Mail interview our First Minister, Carwyn Jones, said he was “waiting for news on the proposed electrification of the main line from Swansea to London, a decision that was not a devolved matter.” Similarly, there was no intelligence to be gleaned at the House of Commons or in senior railway circles last week.
So why the delay in making the decision? Phillip Hammond has to consider difficult (or, in Sir Humphrey speak, vote loosing) cuts or delays in public transport investment. Two primary areas will be concerning him this week – the purchase of the trains and how far west to take electrification of the Great Western Main Line.
To say that the UK Government is unconvinced by the arguments about investment in public transport would be disingenuous, particularly in England. On the other hand some have suggested that would be less applicable to Wales in view of the High Speed Rail decision to ignore Wales.
The UK Government is already committed to the London Crossrail scheme approved in a context where rail electrification to Swansea has a rate of return of over 2.6:1 compared with Crossrail’s 1.9: 1. Transport ministers have asked that the current evaluation techniques consider the wider economic effects of transport investment and not concentrate on journey time reductions and capacity issues. On this basis Great Western Main Line electrification should have been positively mentioned in the Comprehensive Spending Review.
In attempting to determine the decision to be made by the Department of Transport, the official announcements are not that clear. The UK Government said it is “supporting investment to improve journey time reliability on Great Western Main Line services to south Wales” but that “a final decision will be made after the Comprehensive Spending Review on the replacement of the IC 125 trains’ which currently operate between Swansea, Cardiff, Bristol and London” (Philip Hammond, 20 October 2010).
However the Transport Department have also said that “London Thameslink, electrification of the GWML and Manchester / Liverpool rail routes are interdependent with the Intercity Express Programme decision” on new trains. That could be a part of the delay in making the decision.
The Hitachi train company are currently proposing a ‘standardised train design’ for their Inter-city Express train, which is expected to feature a ‘significant cost saving’ over the existing proposal. Another suggestion is to use proven trains such as those used on the East Coast Main Line in England.
The Department of Transport could decide to buy bi-modal trains which can run on existing and electrified lines. and electrify in stages. However, this is probably the least cost effective way of building or improving a railway. Electrification through to Swansea remains a far cheaper long-term option compared with bi-modal new trains.
If carried out incrementally, the cost of track electrification can be reduced to an average of £2.5m per mile – substantially less than starting the scheme at several different time and location stages.
Alternatively the Minister could electrify part of the route and then continue to operate diesel trains ‘under the wires’ to Bristol in order to serve south Wales. Yet this would also not be an optimal solution.
Indeed, it presents another problem. The existing Intercity 125 trains were re- engineered in 1996 with a 10-year life expectancy. So in 2016 the Great Western Mail Line will need a new fleet of trains or have to re-engineer once again a fleet of by then 40-year-old power units and rolling stock. Would this be a wise use of public finances?
Mr Hammond has five options on how far west to electrify:
• To complete Crossrail to Maidenhead
• To Bristol and Oxford. The two Bristol routes would have to be given overhead wires via Bath and via Bristol Parkway. For operational reasons this would extend to just short of the Severn Tunnel… but on the English side!
• To Cardiff which would put in question a direct service from London to Swansea.
• To Swansea which would in the long run be the cheapest means of achieving whole route electrification
The extension from Bristol to Swansea is estimated at £200m and to Cardiff alone at £85m (both with possible additions for Network Rail optimum risk calculations and for the National Grid costs).
These are small amounts for the Department of Transport but will improve capacity and travel times as well as bringing wider economic benefits for the south Wales economy. In the current vernacular, electrification to Swansea is a “no brainer”.
Unquote

Looking at this from a political dimension is there any possibility that this decision is being viewed in the context of the proposed reduction of Welsh MP’s – thereby reducing the volume and access to the public spotlight of the opposition? Would anybody be that devious – is this a political conspiracy or an economic ****-up.
 
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